Archive | August, 2005

Pro Cycling News – The Once and Future Cipo'?

23 Aug

Daniele Bennati took his third group sprint of this year’s Tour of Germany, perhaps reviving his long-dead claim to as heir to Il Re Leone. Levi Leipheimer maintained his 31 second gap on Jan Ullrich to take the overall. Leipheimer’s teammate David Rebellin extended his contract with Gerlosteiner for blah blah blah…let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?

The guardians of responsible journalism at that bastion of ethical investigation better known as L’Equipe have decided to steal the show by alleging (once again) that Lance Armstrong is on drugs. Well, was on drugs. Way back in 1999. Well, not all of 1999. Just six times on the ’99 Tour. I mean, they’re pretty sure the six of the twelve samples they think are positive are his. Even if they did use a test that is notorious for false positives. Oh, yeah, I guess it’s all officially moot because there’s no alternate samples to test.

Guilty or not, it’s not news. Perhaps the oldest story in Lance Amrstong’s post-cancer career is that he’s allegedly on drugs. If he turns out to be on drugs, everyone knew all along anyway; if not, hey, he’s still innocent and no one cares. You can’t name a prominent professional cyclist not accused of taking drugs. Eddy Merckx was booted from the ’74 Giro on obviously contrived drugs charges. One of Jacques Anquetil’s hour record rides was invalidated because he chose to shower before peeing in the cup. I think my feelings on the topic are best summed up by two-time TdF winner Laurent Fignon:

“I don’t give a sh!t.”

For a guy that lost the Tour de France because he didn’t cut his ponytail, Fignon is an alright dude. The more I read about him, the more I want to buy him a drink.

Hamilton wins Mount Washington – Rant

22 Aug

Man, how do I miss something like this?

Tyler Hamilton, currently not doing any racing because it looks pretty convincing that he cheated by means of blood doping during last year’s Vuelta, won the Mount Washington Hillclimb this past Saturday. The race, which is independent of any cycling governing body, involves little of the traditional “tactics,” “strategy” and “skills” (like descending) generally associated with bike racing. It also carries a horribly overinflated price tag, and thus attracts only professionals fleeing persecution from cycling governing bodies, fat I-bankers who feel guilty about using a $6000 road bike as garage decor, youngsters trying to make a name for themselves, and Dale Apgar.

So the next time you might wonder why the hell you should pay 200+ dollars to sit on the wait list to race up an ungodly steep hill, be denied the option to descend, and be soaked for an additional 8 bucks to attend a pasta dinner that you could have thrown together for 3 bucks at the local Price Chopper, no matter what anyone tells you, it’s so convicted dopers can kick the living sh!t out of you. Think wisely before you register for next year, unless your life’s dream is to get plastered all over the side of a 6000 foot granite rock by Dario Frigo.

Pro Cycling News – Ullrich takes Stage, Ferrar takes USPRO

22 Aug

With his typical display of sound and fury signifying nothing, Jan Ullrich rumbled to a victory in today’s 8th stage of the Tour of Germany. American Bobby Julich was a close second at 11s, but the man in the driver’s seat was Julich’s compatriot Levi Leipheimer, who lost nearly a minute to the German underachiever, leaving him 31 seconds up on Ullrich for the GC lead at the end of the day, a lead he will almost certainly retain through tomorrow’s flat finale.

An interesting note on today’s stage: Ullrich’s personal coach Rudy Pevenage was not allowed to ride in the T-Mobile team car that followed Ullrich during the TT. “In the races leading up to the Tour, Rudy sat in the team car during time trials. But not during the Tour or afterwards – that is what we agreed on,” explained Team Manager Olaf Ludwig. Unbelievable. Do you think Carmichael and Bruyneel get into these pissing matches? Just another reason why, during his win on Stage 7, I can guarantee you the words “Man, I wish I was still riding for T-Mobile” never crossed Cadel Evans’ lips.

On this side of the Atlantic, American Tyler Ferrar, 21 years young, nipped former winner Jelly Belly’s Dave McCook to take the win in the USPRO Criterium Championships Tyler will no doubt rock his Stars and Stripes jersey proud at all the…oh, wait. Seems Cofidis, following their long tradition of dominating all other French teams by importing the best foreign riders they can find, has signed the American phenom, meaning that unless Criterium International counts as a crit, chances are he’ll never put the damn thing on.

And man, if the rumors are true, Erik Zabel doesn’t fool around when he changes teams…

Pro Cycling News – Who from Where did What?

20 Aug

Iglinski, Maxim. Never heard of him? That’s probably because he’s been riding for Domina Vacanze, which hasn’t had the greatest season so far. But today, the 24-Kazakh (they’re everwhere, these days) hung tough with a nasty breakaway group containing Julich, Horner and Ballan (each ProTour winners at least once this season) among other notables, and rode a brilliant sprint, catching the perfect wheel (Disco’s Jurgen van der Broeck) and blasting past it to win Stage 6 of the Tour of Germany right on the line. In the process, Iglinski became the most-Asian looking dude I’ve ever seen win a ProTour race. And in a sport run by the whitest of the white guys, a little diversity on the poduim is a sight for very sore eyes. In the GC, Levi Leipheimer retained his nearly-a-minute lead over other white guy Jan Ullrich, with Levi’s Gerlosteiner teammate Georg Totchnig sandwhich nicely in between. Tomorrow’s climbing and Monday’s TT should sort the GC out nicely before Tuesday’s finale.

Gosh, I wish there were more news out there. But Tour of Tasmania? Tour of Limousine?. I’ve barely even heard of these things, and I’m obsessed. I mean, I could talk about Jens Voigt being angry about a breakaway companion (again), before regaining his composure, or about how Lance now owns 7,000 shares of Trek Bikes (as if you needed any less reason to trust his endorsement), but eh, that stuff hardly seems newsworthy.

Pro Cycling News – Benatti Makes It 2

19 Aug

Daniele Bennati of Lampre-Caffita roared to his second win of this year’s Tour of Germany, toasting Disco’s Roger Hammond and FdJ’s Baden Cooke in a group sprint. Levi Leipheimer maintained his lead, and not one single rider lost time today, though former GC leader Bram Tankink said “auf Wiedersehen” and failed to start today’s stage. Jan Ullrich, who sits in 3rd, 50 seconds behind Leipheimer, expressed optimism that he could catch the American over the next few days, a sentiment that Leipheimer echoed. Should be an interesting finale.

In contract news, Jacob Piil, who was the most aggressive rider for most of the 2004 Tour (until he aggressived himself right into a knee injury) has renewed with CSC, while Dmitri Fofonov, late of Cofidis, responding to the fact that pretty much every other Kazakh in the pro peloton is switching teams next season, has announced that he will ride for Credit Agricole in 2006.

Finally today, a note for all those who though OLN’s Tour Coverage was good, but lacked Lance-specific content: now you can ride with Lance anytime. Experience the Texan’s trademark stiff and uneasy camera presence while you hammer away in a futile attempt to go faster than him. Yes, this ride will no doubt be an experience to remember.

Pro Cycling News – American wins German Stage in Austria

18 Aug

Well, I guess we all should have guessed this would happen as soon as Jan Ullrich declared his intentions to win the Tour of Germany: an American (Levi L) riding with the help of a teammate (Georg Totchnig) put nearly a minute into the big German diesel on Stage 4, and took the yellow jersey. The only downside on the day for Gerolsteiner was the fact that Totchnig, an Austrian, did not have the gas to win on his home soil. By far the biggest loser on the day was Bobby Julich, who lost over 10 minutes to his compatriot, and pretty much any shot he had at overall victory in the Tour.

Update on the Trenti affair now: he was caught during the HEW Cyclassics race(not out-of-competition, as reported yesterday), and has turned up positive for good old EPO. The urine test for EPO, however, is notorious for turning up false-postives; so much so that many high-profile anti-doping labs refuse to carry them out anymore. No word yet on whether Guidi will pull a Hamilton and make a Federal Case out of his innocence; what is certain is that Phonak manager John Lelangue is not psyched about this.

Faux Pas of the Week – Rant

17 Aug

Ok, so no one who’s seen a pro race from Hinault’s fall to Armstrong’s ascendency would accuse cycling of being a particularly fashion-conscious sport. True, there have been some notable fashion scores, like La Vie Claire’s snazzy art-modern kit, or the classic understated lines of Team Bianchi, or the so-uncool-its-hip outfit of Skil-Moser. But taken as a whole, the history of cycling attire has been one, long, unmittigated fashion disaster.

So, Jonathan Vaughters, you should most definately know better. Wearing that Credit Agricole green vest over that light-blue TIAA-Cref Jersey, and then letting a photographer take a picture? You’ve been entrusted with molding the next generation of American Cycling Superstars and this, this sartorial abomination, is how you repay that trust? God, what’s next? Equipping Team 5280 with those god-awful faux-denim shorts (complete with fake pockets and rivets) that Carerra used to wear? I shudder to even consider it.

Pro Cycling News – Benatti Takes a Stage, Tank Keeps Rolling.

17 Aug

At the Tour of Germany, pretty much the only show in town in European Pro Cycling at the moment, Lampre’s Danieli Benatti, once hailed as a the next Cipo, came off white-hot Filippo Pozzatto’s wheel to win the group sprint for Stage 3. Euskatel’s Unai Etxebarria animated early with a long attack, and can console himself with the fact that, although his break failed, his head was extremely well-ventilated. Current race leader Bram Tankink finished with the group, marking probably his last day in yellow as tomorrow’s queen stage looks to be one for the skinnies.

In out-of-competition news, psuedo-American Fabrizio Guidi has been suspended by his Phonak squad after turning up positive for an unspecified controlled substance. While his B-sample sits sealed in a lab somewhere, waiting to tested, Phonak management is no doubt sweating blood as Guidi’s infraction is the 4th for the squad in the past 14 months. Phonak, having only slipped into the ProTour by the skin of its teeth, is currently on a probationary two-year license, due to the doping offnses of last year.

Despite the fact that Guidi has turned up positive, and the fact that he raced in this year’s Tour de France, Tour organizers have declared the 2005 Tour officially clean. Of the 164 blood and urine samples, only one returned mere traces of the stimulant norepinephrine, which could have arisen from legal use of cold medications, and so the UCI declared the race clean. Which just shows you how far drug testing has to go.

Pro Cycling News – Hour Record, Pippo Rips It

16 Aug

Finally! Someone else has noticed that Boardman’s hour record has been smashed. And it only took a month. Still, you can count on the guys at Pez to pick up the overlooked-but-interesting. Some highlights of the report: Sosenka used 190mm custom cranks (just like Big Mig) and did not wear aerobooties (just like Eddy Merckx). Also, he’s won quite a few big races before; the reason you’ve never heard of him is because they were all East of the Elbe.

These days, Filippo Pozzatto just can’t stop the nasty. After a win at HEW, then a win the following week at Giro di Lazio, you think he’d maybe cool off a bit? Oh no. Today, he took at 30 man group sprint on the second stage of the Tour of Germany, after helping the group recapture an aggressive Jorg Jasche, who still managed second on the day. Overnight leader Bram Tankink lost only 1:44 to the leaders, and so retained his yellow jersey, while all the race favorites were tucked securely into ST behind the rampaging 23-year-old Italian from Quick-Step.

Speaking of Quick-Step, current Landbaucredit-Colnago rider Jurgen van der Waale and his mysterious intermolecular forces will be shipping off to that Belgian ProTour squad next season. Other contract news: Zaballa NOT to Illes Balears just yet, as apparently he’s still in negotiations with Saunier for this year, Piepoli still with Saunier, Jens Voight for two more years with CSC, Stuart O’Grady for two more years with Cofidis, and Xabier Zandio NOT to Discovery, but instead to two more years with Illes Balears.

Fizik Aliante Sport – Review

16 Aug

A stripped down model of the super-pimp Aliante this saddle might just only be available as an OEM part. No matter. It might be on a bike you want, it might turn up on Nashbar next month. It weighs 263g with Ti rails, cost is probably around $70 retail? Anyway, let’s get down to business (on a scale of 1-5 as always, with 3 being the industry average.)

Cost: 3. At my guestimated retail price, it compares favorably with other saddles in that price range. Ti rails keep it light, rest of the saddle is cheap: plastic, foam and faux leather.

Comfort: 4. Is there really any other criterion to judge a saddle by? Unlike many seats, which require a few moments for the backside to adjust before they feel ok, the Aliante is immediately cozy. Seriously, I sat down and was like like “Hellooooooooo.” After about 90 minutes of uninterupted sitting, things get less comfy, but still without numbness in the bits, and no worse than on any other saddle I’ve ridden. Perhaps the super-advanced carbon shell under the padding on the top-end Aliantes addresses this issue?

Weight: 3. More than an SLR, less than a (cheap) Concor. I really don’t care about weight, but if you do, my guess is you’ll probably want something a little easier on the gram scale; the high-end Aliante will definately scratch that itch a little better.

Shape: 4. What’s this you might ask? Why, it’s an assesment of the saddle’s ability to let you ride in different positions to adapt to different speeds, road conditions and just for plain old comfort. The Aliante does pretty well, with a slightly raised/widened nose, which aids comfort while time trialling (ouch), and the back flares up nicely, letting you get back for comfort on cobbles or to get flat-backed without aerobars. Only problem is the cheap plastic bit under the nose has pointy ends that snag your shorts (if your thighs are as huge as mine).

Style: 3. Pretty Plain Jane as these things go. Fizik really held off on the sweet Italian styling that made their Arione so classic. Nothing here but boring old black and a tiny “Arione sport” written on the side of the nose. Plus is doesn’t have those kevlar cloth edges, so a crash or two is sure to tear this thing open and make it a sponge. Bummer.

Final Thoughts: A clear winner for cheapskates like me who love to stand up every once in a while. My only caution is that I have a pretty girthy backside (I mean, it’s all muscle, but still, pretty big). I weigh a fair amount (165lbs, 75kg), but that pressure is well distributed. I’ve only come across one saddle that I ever couldn’t stand, and people have told me on numerous occasions that my previous saddles have sucked. So take my advice at your own discretion.